In the EDI communications market, everyone is selling, “Kraft Singles”. Another gem by Seth Godin.

I hate business gurus. Hate Hate. They never did me any good. After I tried a few magic seminars early on in my career, I gave up. However, seminal knowledge is simply too precious to ignore, and here is yet another aphorism by Master Sensei Seth Godin – I am starting to think that the first three letters of his last name are for real. I have never purchased a thing from Mr. Godin, but I do catch an RSS feed, and I am consistently edified. See the article here. There’s a lesson in there for the current VAN industry.

Kraft Singles owns the market for plain processed cheese in plastic.  I am fairly certain even  gourmet cheese snobs occasionally  pirate a slice or two when  making their children’s lunch. And there are probably Whole Foods analogues to the famous Kraft Single formula –  “Plain Cheese you can unwrap and depend on”.

Dont try and outdo Kraft Singles. You will lose. Kraft owns the brand.

This describes the VAN industry as of today. Upload, Download, Mapping, etc. Kraft Singles. You want in,  you want to be anchor EDI network, you have your work cut out for you – not technically, per se, but the barriers to entry are immense. We did it in 1999, well, Todd Gould did it, by executing Federal and DOD EDI purchasing applications, building ECGrid®, getting interconnects, and passing the Federal DASC / DEBX certification tests, way back when it meant something. But going forward, we knew in 1999 that plain vanilla services would not sustain the business model.

And here we are, with the most advanced EDI communications system, the only API for enabling autonomous, independent EDI network operations, and a product road map that extends into the future of multitenant e-commerce, far beyond supply chains.

This is occurring against the backdrop of settled services vying for KCs at diminishing rates,  .005 cents at a time. Most B2B integration leaders sell lock-in contracts that do not serve end users at all. The consolidation in the B2B sector has tilted the market, leaving us with a landscape of lost, loss leaders resorting to scorched-earth tactics, managed IT agreements welded to VAN services (John Paul Sarte’s, No Exit) interconnection arbitraging, etc.

This ‘way of doing business’, if you can call it that,  leads straight to regulatory scrutiny and the most unproductive legal wrangling. The leading purveyors of established, “Kraft Singles” VAN solutions, though firmly entrenched,  seem to be wearing their welcome thin; we are constantly barraged with requests to help some poor executive out of an EDI jam; these requests originate not with technical problems, per se, I will repeat, these are not PER SE, technical problems, they are abuses of customer loyalty.  These unfortunate practices are driving prestigious clients to alternative providers, and are catching a few on the fly. These fortunate few are pleased to find that ECGrid offers a very efficient, differentiated EDI communications solution – as different from a ‘Kraft Singles” VAN solution as could ever be found.

Loren Data Corp has no intention of adopting worn out models; and, while every market shelters a few old behemoths of the bygone era, we have always believed in “EDI the revolution”  arising from B2B Service Providers, on-demand web-based innovators at the sharp edge of the market, driving down costs, delivering added value to the SMEs.  And, Loren Data Corp is the preferred network for cloud commerce infrastructure providers; we are simply better at delivering EDI backbone services to the multitenant service providers.

The coming revolutionary, extraordinary EDI applications now being brought to market will exemplify a collaborative model of partner to partner commerce; these models are so fresh, that they have not even been named, as of yet. But, these pioneering ventures will cross the classic supply chain chasm, and break into real-time, dynamic marketplaces – which is where we are placing our bets.

Our product road map encompasses an expansive philosophical-political, legal, and regulatory world-view, has given us a viable platform to build upon. We are just a handful of busy, somewhat overworked network scientists, engineers, and support staff, but we all share a propensity for debate, contemplating the philosophy of interconnected networks, always striving to understand the their next level of impact on  evolving business to business relationships.

The judgement seems to auger strongly in favor of the following: Kraft Singles owns the old market, but such old cheese will not suffice for  dealing with tomorrow’s B2B requirements, so I call attention to the previously referenced blog post by Mr Seth Godin.




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